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What Is FAT32 Partition Size Limit and How to Break It

Brithny updated on Feb 20, 2021 Partition Manager | How-to Articles

Overview - What's FAT32 Partition Size Limit

File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) is one of the oldest Windows file systems. It is a disk file management method that uses 32-bit binary number record management. FAT32 is developed from FAT and FAT16. 

The advantages are good stability and compatibility, fully compatible with Win 9X and previous versions, and easy maintenance. The disadvantage is that the security is poor. FAT32 can only support up to 32GB partition, and a single file can only support up to 4GB.

Name Disk Structure Advantages Limitations
FAT32
  • Boot area
  • File allocation table
  • The data area
Great stability and compatibility
  • Poor security
  • 4 GB maximum file size
  • 2 TB maximum partition size

4 GB maximum file size: if you try to transfer a file larger than 4GB to a FAT32 drive, you will fail and meet the error "the file is too large for the destination file system". 

2 TB maximum partition size: If you have a 3TB drive, you couldn't format it as a single FAT32 partition

How to Break the FAT32 Size Limit (2 Ways)

You have learned about the FAT32 limitations. How can you break the barrier? To answer this question, you must know another file system, which is called NTFS. 

NTFS is a disk format supported by the Windows NT kernel series operating system, specially designed for network and disk quotas, file encryption, and other management security features. It is superior to FAT32 in many aspects: more secure, robust, and supports larger file sizes and drives.

Thus, you can convert FAT32 to NTFS to break the limit. Generally, there are three ways to convert to NTFS. Only two of them can convert FAT32 to NTFS without data loss.

Method 1. Break FAT32 Limit with Reliable FAT32 Converter

NTFS is ideal for internal drives. To convert to NTFS, you need a reliable FAT32 converter. EaseUS Partition Master is my recommendation. This tool can convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing any data.

Follow the steps below to convert FAT32 to NTFS without data loss:

Your Reliable Choice - EaseUS Partition Master

 

Step 1: Install and launch EaseUS Partition Master on your computer.

open EaseUS Partition Master

Step 2: Select a FAT32 partition, right-click on it and select "Convert to NTFS". If you need to convert a storage device such as SD card or USB flash drive to NTFS, insert it into your PC first and repeat the previous operation.

convert FAT32 to NTFS

Step 3: Click "OK" on the pop-up dialog box to continue.

convert FAT32 to NTFS

Step 4: Go to the upper left corner, click the "Execute 1 Operation" button and you will see the operation details. Click "Apply" and "Finish" when the process completes.

convert FAT32 to NTFS

Method 2. Break FAT32 Size Limit with Command Prompt

If you don't want to download third-party software, you can run Command Prompt. You can use CMD convert command to switch the FAT partition to NTFS. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Press the Windows logo key + R to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2. Enter cmd to open the command prompt window.

Step 3. Type help convert and then press "Enter".

Step 4. At the command line prompt, type convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs.

convert FAT32 to NTFS to break FAT32 limitations

Then, type exit when the converting process completes.

Extra Tips: How to Format FAT32 Larger Than 32GB

Although FAT32 partition supports up to 2TB, users find it unable to format 32GB+ partition to FAT32 in Windows 10/8/7 via the built-in tools. EaseUS partition software can also solve this problem. It can format a 2TB hard drive to FAT32 at most. Follow the steps below to format a partition larger than 32GB to FAT32.

 

Step 1: Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the hard drive partition you intend to format and choose "Format".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2: In the new window, set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and Cluster size for the partition to be formatted, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3: Then you will see a warning window, click "OK" in it to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4: Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting the partition on your hard drive.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

Conclusion

You have learned about two ways to break the FAT32 limitation without losing data. Method 1 is my recommendation. You can bypass the limitation with easy steps. If you are familiar with the CMD command, you can refer to Method 2.

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